Friday, March 29, 2013

A Double Header

The situation in DC seems to grow ever more discouraging, or should I say 'disgusting'. Many folks continue to believe that less polarity and more compromise would bring about a big improvement in results.
When I was quite young, a junior in prep school, I faced a moral dilemma but was too dumb to realize it until a few years later. I was the head waiter in our dining room with five others under me. The headmaster gave me to understand that hereafter the waiters were to be paid by the hour and not by the meal as before. This meant approximately a fifty percent cut in pay, and I really needed the difference.  As our meeting ended, he said, "But of course, you'll take care of yourself." I puzzled over that, only later realizing that it was 'Irish-speak' for "You can stay on the old system." I don't know what I would have done had I understood. If I paid myself fifty cents per meal, how would my relationships with my friends and my self-respect have been affected?
Our elected representatives have an answer: They have to take special interest money.
Consider the process. A representative in party A (congressman, senator, president) is coming up for reelection. If he/she doesn't take the money, the opposing candidate may win. All members of party A understand that party B is in league with the devil and not to be trusted with the future of our country. They think, 'Okay so it's bribery, corruption, but look what happens to our beloved country if I don't take it'. And down we go.
So far, this problem doesn't seem big enough to bring down our country, right? But what happens after the election? The bigger the bribe, the greater the guilt and the need to constantly reinforce one's sense of the 'sacrifice' made in order to save our country.  To live with oneself, party B needs to be constantly criticized, their basic motivations seen as evil. After a while, animosity and hatred creep into relationships. The well has been poisoned, and there's no going back.
We all have friends and  relatives with whom we fail to see eye to eye. We may think that some of them are a little bit nuts, have occasional heated discussions with them, but we get along, even view them with affection. This is hardly the case in DC, and, in my view, until the special interest money, that feeds the lust for power and distorts its application,  is rooted out, we can hope for nothing more.

Something in my nature draws me to tragi-comedy, and I am thus drawn, in spite of my efforts to ignore it, to the current budgetary drama in my favorite city where only one thing seems certain--neither party intends to actually balance the budget, much less pay down our debt. The arguments center around those items that we cannot afford to cut for various reasons.
There's a handy-man in town, let's call him Allen (his real name is Ted--joke). He's good, versatile, friendly, and not too expensive. But there's a problem; his truck is getting old and increasingly unreliable causing him to miss out on profitable work, and he sometimes misses doctors’ appointments and a free meal. He patches it as best he can, but it's clearly costing more than a reliable truck would. Unfortunately, he's already in debt; even his friends won't help. He's desperate, eats out a lot because there's nothing in the house and, to save his sanity, absolutely must get away to visit his brother in Florida several times a year. Suggestions as to how to reorder his spending priorities fall on deaf ears.
Meanwhile in my favorite city, our solons absolutely refuse to dump our tax code in favor of something simple thereby shredding 8000+ pages and saving the government, businesses, and individuals billions. Reason: Where would the money for their next campaign come from? Nobody, not even the media dares to utter the C word. (They might lose access). Please note: simple doesn't mean everyone pays the same rate.
And the farm program (payolla)?
And, have you noticed, that, as we're getting out of Afghanistan, China and North Korea are getting really scary?
And do we really need to protect the drug companies and trial lawyers from our health care programs?
Note: I've never known a government worker who could not add to the list. 

Joe Bakewell

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Denizen of the Frog Pond, 1859

Auburn NY Daily American Thursday Evening, May 24, 1859.


   After a lull of two or three weeks, during which our contemporary of the [Auburn DailyAdvertiser has enjoyed the benefits of the Metropolitan atmosphere, he renews his opposition to any union of Americans and Republicans [anti-slavery political parties], for the purpose of electing an Opposition President in 1860. His labors in that direction, of yesterday, consisted in publishing an article from the Syracuse Journal, accompanied with the comment that "the position assumed by the Journal is the only one that can be consistently occupied by Republican papers.
   When the denizen of the frog pond undertook to swell himself to the capacity of an ox, he burst his boiler. When either the Syracuse Journal or the Auburn Journal undertake to declare that the New York Tribune, New York Post, New York Times, and the Albany Evening Journal  are not consistent Republican papers, and are not orthodox in policy as well as in measures, it seems to us very much like pupils in a district school usurping the function of their teachers and setting themselves up as teachers of their masters.
   It has not been left to either of these editors to say what is or what is not consistent in this matter, any more than it has been left to us. There has been a power above either of us, as both our contemporaries ought to know, and over which neither of us have had any control, which ordained an union in this State of the opponents of Buchanan's administration. And we all knew how much an union came to be ordained. It was because it had been effected in the States east and west of us, and in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, thereby creating a necessity in New York for following that example which it was almost impossible to resist.
   It was ordained, therefore, not as an original measure of expediency, but as a political necessity that had arisen from the actions of men of other States around us. We know that this was the view taken of the matter by the Governor, and by Mr. Weed and the two Central Committees in Albany. It is, we submit, the only sensible view to be taken of it, under the circumstances.
   The Journal says: "We are sick of hearing about Union, Fusion, and the like." We advise the editor to endeavor to cure himself of this sickness, for we are entirely certain that he is to hear, if he lives, a great deal more on the same subjects. The union of all anti-slavery Americans and Republicans, in this State, was determined by an unrepealable decree, made five months ago, and it has become an actual fact in history. It exists in substance and effect, all over the body of this State. It exists in some degree in New York city and Buffalo. Whether it be rightful or wrongful in itself, is not now open for discussion. It is enough for us to know that it exists, and that with its existence has come the duty of supporting it as the best thing we can do under the circumstances.
   The Journal says the leaders in the American organization [William Moses, editor of the Daily American and others] "would rather rule in hell than serve in heaven." This is a flourish which demonstrates nothing except that the editor has read Milton very carelessly. The Journal does not really believe that, even of Brooks, Ullman and Perrin.
   It is undoubtedly true that their atmospheric surrounding disinclines them to submit the Presidential question to a Convention in which they shall have no voice. It is also time, we think, that they take a course that is likely to prevent them from having a voice in that Convention--that they are committing a mistake. If they would only come freely into the union, and do "works sweet for union," they might all be delegates to that Convention, and enjoy the privileges they desire.
   But if they do not see this to be their line of policy and duty, it is not worthwhile, we think, to denounce them harshly and with epithets. Milder treatment will be far more efficacious in curing the error under which they appear to labor.
   That even though these men are adjudged to be wrong headed in this matter, it is not just to charge the body of Americans in this State with their delinquencies, any more than it is to charge Republicans in Cayuga County with the delinquencies of their brethren in the cotton cities of the State or Union.
   There is a difference between the politicians in New York city and the country[upstate], in all parties which has to be tolerated. The Americans are not exempt from the general misfortune in that particular. That influence is limited, however, and is gradually lessening under the benignant influence of the friends of the union in the body of the State.
   We hope the Advertiser will not pursue this subject further, as it can do no possible good to the Republican cause in this county to keep up a quarrel with the American and its friends.

Editor's note: The Daily American was published by William Moses. The Daily Advertiser was published by Knapp and Peck.
Under the editorial, in the same column, was a separate news item on a murder-suicide.

   Michael Kennedy, of Granby, Oswego County,  who tried to commit suicide, and afterwards killed his wife, has since drowned himself.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Reality of Dred Scott Decision

Auburn NY Daily American Saturday Evening, March 26, 1859.

Another Reality of the Dred Scott Decision.

   Another consequence has been deduced from the Dred Scott decision, which renders it still more repulsive to the people of the free States, and of course still more attractive to those for whose benefit that decision was made.
   The Pittsburg Gazette mentions that a company of colored people of that city, thinking that the lest thing they could do for themselves and their families, would be to remove West, and take up and settle upon the public land, and secure a pre-emption right to purchase the same, had their counsel address a letter on the subject to the Commissioner of the General land Office at Washington, to which the Commissioner returned the following reply:

General Land Office, March 7, 1859.
John M. Kirkpatrick, Esq., Pittsburg, Penn:

In reply to your letter of the 24th ult., I have to state that under the now settled ruling of this office, which has been sanctioned by the Secretary, colored persons are not citizens of the United States as contemplated by the pre-emption law of the 4th September 1841, and are, therefore, not legally entitled to pre-empt public lands.
Very respectfully, your ob'd't servant,
Joseph A. Wilson, Acting Com.

   This is consistent following out of the doctrine of the Dred Scott decision, and shuts out all colored persons from the benefits of the pre-emption laws, because they are not citizens of the United States, as declared in that opinion.
   There is but one step more to be taken before colored persons will be effectively stripped of every show of rights, even in the free States, and that step can be justified by the same decision of the Supreme Court. It is this: that being declared not citizens of the U.S. Courts, they cannot by State laws become citizens of the several States, or parties of judicial proceedings.
   It is time for those who have not already thought seriously on these matters to give the subject their earnest attention. Unless averted by a change of Administration, a conflict between the State and the U. S. Government is inevitable.

Editor's note: The Auburn NY Daily American was published by William J. Moses. He supported the American Party (local political party) which eventually merged with the Republican Party. Moses joined the Democratic Party by the start of the Civil War and remained a loyal Democrat for the rest of his life. On April 12, 1861, the first shots of the American Civil War were fired by Confederates upon Fort Sumter in South Carolina.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Was That Sausage Alive before You Stole it?

Auburn NY Daily American Monday Evening, January 3, 1859

In Pontiac, Mich., a short time since, a man was brought up before a Justice of the Peace for trial charged with stealing a dog. The defendant asked for a jury. The case was tried, the jury went out, and after an hour's deliberation returned with a verdict of  “Guilty of petty larceny, in the second degree." The Justice expressed his surprise at such a verdict, and stated that there was no law in Michigan, making the taking of a dog stealing. The jury, through their foreman, stated that the dog was not stolen as a dog, but after it had been made into sausages. The prisoner went up for the usual time on this decision.

It will be recollected that Passmore Williamson, the Quaker, who was imprisoned by Judge Kane at Philadelphia on charge of contempt because he would not produce an escaped slave, brought a suit against Judge Kane for false imprisonment, which terminated by the death of the Judge. He also brought a suit against Judge Ellis Lewis, then Judge of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania for refusing his application for a habeas corpus. The court, after hearing all the plaintiffs evidence, directed a non-suit on the ground that the habeas corpus act did not apply to cases of commitments in execution of final judgments after trial, but only to warrants of arrest issued before trial. It seems to be settled that a Judge has no right to allow a writ of habeas corpus, where it appears, on the applicant's own showing, that the prisoner is legally imprisoned under the sentence or judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction, as was the case with Mr. Williamson.

The Detroit Tribune notices the appearance in the streets of that city of Charles Baker who, four years ago, at the age of sixteen, was sent to the State Prison for life! He was the leader of a gang of burglars who were a terror to the owners of merchandise in Detroit, and although his sentence was approved at the time, still it was a matter of surprise that a boy only sixteen years old should have plotted and directed the schemes, securing as his accessories men old enough to be his father. This boy, Baker, having behaved himself during the four years of his imprisonment in the most exemplary manner, was pardoned by Gov. Bingham on that account and in consideration of his extreme youth.

Child Swallows Mouse

Auburn NY Daily American Saturday Evening, January 2, 1858
   A broad streak of sunshine shot out  beneath a sky-full of clouds this morning, glowing upon the spires of churches and other lofty buildings, giving the city the appearance presented by a large conflagration at night.
   NEW YEAR DAY passed off very quietly indeed here yesterday. There being no snow, and no merry jingling of sleigh bells, there were scarcely any riding parties. Friends from the country did not come in to anything like the extent they usually do on this festive day. The holiday custom of New Year calls was almost entirely dispensed with, many not receiving a dozen who have hitherto received 75 or 100. So the day wore away with Sabbath-like quiet and unwonted dullness. It is difficult to root out the fallacy that today is not Monday
   The Spiritualists of this city meet in Corning Side Hall on Sunday evening. Mr. and Mrs. U. Clark, and others will speak. Free.
   The county of Monroe contributed, in 1857, thirty two convicts to the State Prison here.
   A Mouse in a Child’s Stomach. ---A few days ago a child named Tomlinson of Green Lane, N.Y. died after a lingering illness. It appeared that in May last the child passed a full grown mouse, minus its head. The mouse had run down the child’s throat while playing in a field near Stone Ferry, where its parents then resided. After that the child continued ailing more or less until its death.---Exchange.
   We never tried it, but we reckon it would bother us considerably to swallow a mouse; still we “kinda guess” it would trouble us more to even attempt to swallow the above quoted paragraph. Bear stories and even wolf stories we take for granted, as a general thing, no matter how “tough” they may chance to be; but this mouse yarn is “a sticker.”

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Exams for NYS High School Teachers' Certificates in 1901

Under a new ruling of the department of public instruction all teachers who expect to teach in high schools of this state will be required to possess certain credentials or else pass an examination before receiving a license to teach in those schools. The following is an extract from the superintendent's rules:
After Aug 1, 1901, no person who does not possess one of the following qualifications or who was not employed in high school teaching in this state during the school year ending July 31, 1901, shall be employed to teach foreign languages (modern or ancient), English, mathematics, botany, zoology, physiology, physics, chemistry, physiography, history. civics, economics, or psychology, in any high school or high school department in any city whose teachers are examined and licensed under the authority of the state department of public instruction or in any village authorized by law to employ a superintendent of schools:
a) a state certificate issued since 1875 by the state superintendent of public instruction;
b) a college graduate certificate issued by the state superintendent of public instruction;
c) graduation from a college approved by the state superintendent, and graduation from a pedagogical course in a university or college also approved by the state superintendent, or in lieu of graduation for such pedagogical course three years' experience in teaching;
d) a Normal school diploma issued on the completion of a classical course in a state Normal school in this state, or in a state Normal school of another state whose classical course has been approved by the state superintendent of public instruction;
e) a Normal school diploma issued on the completion of a course in a state Normal school other than the classical course, will be accepted for those subjects above enumerated which were included in the course completed by the person holding such Normal school diploma;
f) a first grade uniform certificate and in addition thereto a standing of 75 per attained in an examination under the direction of the state superintendent of public instruction in each of the above enumerated subjects which such person is employed to teach.
These rules apply to all cities in the state except Albany, Buffalo, Jamestown, Middletown and New York. The certification of teachers in these cities is under the supervision of local authorities. The following examinations for high school teachers will be held at the Central school in Cortland on Thursday and Friday, Jan. 10 and 11, and should be taken by all who do not have the above qualifications and credentials:
Thursday, Jan. 10, 1901, A. M.—Geometry, chemistry, botany.
Thursday, Jan. 10, P. M.—Latin, French, German, Greek.
Friday, Jan, 11, A. M.—Composition and rhetoric, English literature, physiography.
Friday, Jan. 11, P. M.—Zoology, history. The paper in history will include five questions on English, five on Grecian, five on Roman and five on general history.

F. E. SMITH, Superintendent.

 Editor's note: This notice was published in The Cortland Evening Standard on Saturday, January 5, 1901.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

First Meeting of City of Cortland Common Council

JANUARY 2, 1901



Common Council Holds Its First Meeting for the Year


     A regular meeting of the common council of the city of Cortland was held
at the office of the clerk last night. This was the first meeting of the new board and every member was present: Mayor Charles F. Brown and Aldermen E. M. Yager, E. R. Wright, George H. Richards, T. C. Scudder, R. H. Pettigrew and Vern W. Skeele.
    Reports for the month of December were made by City Chamberlain Maycumber and Commissioner of Charities Schermerhorn and were placed on file.
    The National bank of Cortland was designated as the bank of deposit of the
city's funds for the coming year.
   The mayor appointed Fred Hatch as city clerk and Dr. P. T. Carpenter as city physician for the coming year; also Messrs. W. A. Stockwell, E. M. Santee, John Tuthill, H. S. Bliss, G. T. Chatterton and C. D. Ver Nooy as members  of the board of health for the six wards of the city.
   The mayor also appointed the members of the board of education, the members named for one and two years respectively being the men elected for the term of office for which they are now appointed at the last election held under the village government. The members named for three years are new appointments entirely. The list is as follows:
   For One Year—G. J. Mager, W. J. Greenman, E. Keator.
   For Two Years—F. D. Smith, A. W. Edgcomb, W. H. Newton.
   For Three Years—C. L. Kinney, A. F. Stilson, F. P. Hakes.
   E. M. Yager was appointed acting mayor.
   The official bond of the city clerk was fixed at $1,000.
   The meeting then adjourned till Tuesday evening, Jan. 8, at 7:30 o'clock when it is likely the balance of the appointments will be made.

Editor’s note: Cortland was a village from 1853 until 1900 when it was incorporated a city. This was the first meeting of common council. The report of the meeting was printed in The Cortland Evening Standard on Wednesday, January 2, 1901.
A short advertisement of a cough remedy appeared below the report.

The Mother's Favorite.

Chamberlain's Cough Remedy is the mother's favorite. It is pleasant and safe for children to take and always cures. It is intended especially for coughs, colds, croup and whooping cough, and is the best medicine made for these diseases. There is not the least danger in giving it to children for it contains no opium or other injurious drug and may be given as confidently to a babe as to an adult: For sale by C. F. Brown. druggist. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Paine's Celery Compound

Best Spring Remedy in the World
Cures Effected by Paine's Celery Compound.
What Scientific Research has Accomplished.
Proved by Success Where All Else Has Failed.

There is one true specific for diseases arising from a debilitated nervous system, and that is the Paine's Celery Compound so generally prescribed by physicians. It is probably the most remarkable remedy that the scientific research of this country has produced. Prof. Edward E. Phelps, M. D., LL. D., of Dartmouth college, first prescribed what is now known the world over as Paine's Celery Compound, a positive cure for dyspepsia, biliousness, liver complaint, neuralgia, rheumatism, and kidney troubles. For the latter Paine's Celery Compound has succeeded again and again where everything else has failed. The medical journals of the country have given more space in the last few years to the many remarkable cases where the use of Paine's celery compound has made people well than any other one subject.


Women’s Home Friend.

It Quickly Banishes the Ills and Physical Troubles That Are Too Common in Springtime.

   A multitude of the healthiest, brightest and most attractive women of this North American continent are deeply indebted to Paine’s Celery Compound for the blessings of health.
   Women, old and young, know well that this famous medicine is specially adapted for all the ills peculiar to their sex. When it is used, the sick and suffering ones are seen to gain steadily in health, strength and vigor. No room is left for the doubt of the skeptic and stubborn-minded individual. The joyous transformation from sickness to health through the use of Paine’s Celery Compound is constantly going on in every direction, so that those once alarmed about the safety of near and dear ones, now rejoice to see the bloom of returning health lighting up and beautifying features once pallid and wan.
   Paine’s Celery Compound continues to be a women’s best home friend in times of sickness. At this season when the numberless ills of women are a source of danger and anxiety, women stand in need of a disease banisher and life giver like Paine’s Celery Compound to cleanse the blood, restore digestive vigor, to banish sleeplessness, to brace the nerves, to banish the symptoms of deadly kidney disease, to dispel the agonies of rheumatism and neuralgia.
   This is the season, today is the time, to begin the use of this best of medical prescriptions. There is not the slightest reason to advance why any woman should continue in suffering, when Paine’s Celery Compound can be so easily procured. Heaven grant that you may have faith sufficient to use at least one bottle of Nature’s health builder in order that you may be convinced that it is what you need.

Editor's note:
The first advertisement appeared in the Cortland Evening Standard on May 1, 1893, and the second appeared in the same newspaper on April 16, 1902. Milton K. Paine, a Vermont pharmacist, created “Celery Compound” in 1882. Ingredients: celery seed, red cinchona, orange peel, coriander seed, lemon peel, hydrochloric acid, glycerin's simple syrup, water and alcohol. Testimonials of six clergymen were published to assure the public that the alcohol content in the bottle was merely a trace. The medicine was marketed by Wells, Richardson and Co. of Burlington, Vermont. Although rumors have circulated for more than one hundred years, Jeff Paine denies any association with the production and marketing of this herbal wonder product.
On May 2, 1898, the Cortland Evening Standard published the following advertisement:

A radical positive and permanent cure

guaranteed in 5 days. Absolutely harmless.
No "tapering off" process – No substitution method.
For particulars, address in strictest confidence:
41 East 2lst Street
New York City

The Chloral hydrate drug was described in a New York Times article dated July 23, 1882.


Friday, March 15, 2013

"The Wild Animals at the Park Have Broken Loose"

     On Monday morning, November 9, 1874, The New York Herald ran a front page story of more than ten thousand words about wild animals escaping from the Central Park menagerie (zoo) and terrorizing Manhattan residents.
     The story described the events of late Sunday afternoon. "We have a list of forty-nine killed, of which only twenty-seven bodies have been identified...incomplete list of killed and wounded...the list of mutilated, trampled and injured in various ways must reach nearly two hundred persons of all ages...twelve of the live, carnivorous beasts are still at large...."
     Police armed with pistols and rifles were on the streets of Manhattan hunting down the escaped animals during the night and early Monday morning. The at-large wild animals included a lioness, a Bengal tiger, a panther, a jaguar, a leopard, a puma, an elephant and a "desperate rhinoceros."
     "The leopard, after killing a little child and mutilating several women who strove to run before him, made his way into the enclosure containing the pelicans, the pea fowl and ostrich and killed all before him."
     A proclamation by the mayor (published with the escape story and dated November 1, 1874) urged all citizens to stay in their homes.
     Few readers in their panic read the story to the end where a disclaimer could be found, or noticed the early date on the mayor's proclamation. 
     The disclaimer: "Of course the entire story given above is a pure fabrication. Not one word of it is true...."
     The fantastic story is available on line at the Museum of Hoaxes.
Museum of Hoaxes--Central Park Zoo Escape

Babe the Blue Ox (retold)

Babe the Blue Ox
Minnesota Tall Tales
retold by
S. E. Schlosser

Well now, one winter it was so cold that all the geese flew backward and all the fish moved south and even the snow turned blue. Late at night, it got so frigid that all spoken words froze solid afore they could be heard. People had to wait until sunup to find out what folks were talking about the night before.
Paul Bunyan went out walking in the woods one day during that Winter of the Blue Snow. He was knee-deep in blue snow when he heard a funny sound between a bleat and a snort. Looking down, he saw a teeny-tiny baby blue ox jest a hopping about in the snow and snorting with rage on account of he was too short to see over the drifts.

Paul Bunyan laughed when he saw the spunky little critter and took the little blue mite home with him. He warmed the little ox up by the fire and the little fellow fluffed up and dried out, but he remained as blue as the snow that had stained him in the first place. So Paul named him Babe the Blue Ox.

Well, any creature raised in Paul Bunyan's camp tended to grow to massive proportions, and Babe was no exception. Folks that stared at him for five minutes could see him growing right before their eyes. He grew so big that 42 axe handles plus a plug of tobacco could fit between his eyes and it took a murder of crows a whole day to fly from one horn to the other. The laundryman used his horns to hang up all the camp laundry, which would dry lickety-split because of all the wind blowing around at that height.

Whenever he got an itch, Babe the Blue Ox had to find a cliff to rub against, 'cause whenever he tried to rub against a tree it fell over and begged for mercy. To whet his appetite, Babe would chew up thirty bales of hay, wire and all. It took six men with picaroons to get all the wire out of Babe's teeth after his morning snack. Right after that he'd eat a ton of grain for lunch and then come pestering around the cook - Sourdough Sam - begging for another snack.

Babe the Blue Ox was a great help around Paul Bunyan's logging camp. He could pull anything that had two ends, so Paul often used him to straighten out the pesky, twisted logging roads. By the time Babe had pulled the twists and kinks out of all the roads leading to the lumber camp, there was twenty miles of extra road left flopping about with nowhere to go. So Paul rolled them up and used them to lay a new road into new timberland.

Paul also used Babe the Blue Ox to pull the heavy tank wagon which was used to coat the newly-straightened lumber roads with ice in the winter, until one day the tank sprang a leak that trickled south and became the Mississippi River. After that, Babe stuck to hauling logs. Only he hated working in the summertime, so Paul had to paint the logging roads white after the spring thaw so that Babe would keep working through the summer.

One summer, as Babe the Blue Ox was hauling a load of logs down the white-washed road and dreaming of the days when the winter would feel cold again and the logs would slide easier on the "ice", he glanced over the top of the mountain and caught a glimpse of a pretty yeller calf grazing in a field. Well, he twisted out of his harness lickety-split and stepped over the mountain to introduce himself. It was love at first sight, and Paul had to abandon his load and buy Bessie the Yeller Cow from the farmer before Babe would do any more hauling.

Bessie the Yeller Cow grew to the massive, yet dainty proportions that were suitable for the mate of Babe the Blue Ox. She had long yellow eyelashes that tickled the lumberjacks standing on the other end of camp each time she blinked. She produced all the dairy products for the lumber camp. Each day, Sourdough Sam made enough butter from her cream to grease the giant pancake griddle and sometimes there was enough left over to butter the toast!

The only bone of contention between Bessie and Babe was the weather. Babe loved the ice and snow and Bessie loved warm summer days. One winter, Bessie grew so thin and pale that Paul Bunyan asked his clerk Johnny Inkslinger to make her a pair of green goggles so she would think it was summer. After that, Bessie grew happy and fat again, and produced so much butter that Paul Bunyan used the leftovers to grease the whitewashed lumber roads in summer. With the roads so slick all year round, hauling logs became much easier for Babe the Blue Ox, and so Babe eventually came to like summer almost as much as Bessie.


C.C. editor’s note: This folk story, retold by S. E. Schlosser, is reproduced unedited for educational and non-commercial storytelling use. It is used with permission of S. E. Schlosser and American Copyright 20--. All rights reserved.

S. E. Schlosser is an educator and storyteller. She is author of The Spooky Series of books and Ghost Stories deck by Random House. C.C. recommends her website and books at:  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Boylston Meteor Hoax

     Writing a hoax requires a special imagination and some useful fishing experience. The objective is to snare and hook the reader with an artificial 'lore,' and make it believable.
     “Chet” Hull was city editor of the Oswego Daily Palladium in June, 1859, when he published the Boylston Meteor Hoax. The story ran for three days. The story got the attention of the New York State Board of Regents, who dispatched several scientists to investigate the impact site. Upon their arrival at the alleged Boylston Meteor site, scientists and other investigators found slag and iron scraps scattered in a field. The metal came from the Vulcan Iron Works in Oswego, and was placed there by Hull and his associates. Hull's reference of dogs howling when they came near a specimen of moon stone "with so moony a flavor," in his third news release, should have made readers howl with laughter. Hull also played a part in another hoax in Oswego ten years later. 
     Newspapers at Sandy Creek, Utica, Buffalo, Syracuse and New York City carried initial reports of the meteor landing at Boylston. Later, when it was determined that the event was a hoax, the same newspapers editorialized about the lies and impositions of “Chet” Hull and the Oswego Daily Palladium. The Utica Observer wrote that it was simply a shameless and unnecessary lie.


Oswego Daily Palladium                   PRICE TWO CENTS
Published daily and weekly by T. P. Ottaway
Dudly Farling, Editor
Chester Hull, City Editor

The Daily Palladium will be served to City Subscribers every morning (Sundays excepted) at $6 per annum.

Thursday Morning, June 16, 1859


Descent of an Immense Meteoric Body In Oswego County !!


     On Wednesday (yesterday) morning the inhabitants of the towns of BoyIston and Redfield to this county, were startled by the occurrence of a most remarkable phenomena—the descent from the heavens of an immense meteoric mass.
     The body struck the earth between the hours of 8 and 4 A.M., with a crash that was truly
terrific, and the shock was  sensibly felt and people aroused from their sleep at a distance of five miles from the scene. The body fell upon the farm of HORACE SANGER, situated on the line of Boylston and Redfield, striking in a meadow and partially on the highway. It is estimated by our informant to cover about half an acre of land. The earth was torn up in a terrible manner, and large fragments were thrown a distance of two-thirds of a mile, The mass is very irregular In shape, and rises at some points to sixty and eighty feet in height, and is supposed to be embedded In the earth as many feet. The surface generally has the appearance of iron ore.
     The excitement occasioned by the event among the Inhabitants was intense, and the crash is said to have been terrific beyond description. Many supposed that the final winding up of terrestrial affairs had truly arrived.

[We are indebted to our friend E. S. Putnam, Esq., of Boylston, for his efforts to furnish us at the earliest moment with the particulars of the event.]


Further Particulars

Friday Morning, June 17, 1859

     On the receipt of your dispatch, at Pulaski, I started at once for Boylston, to inspect in person the scene of the startling phenomenon of Wednesday. You probably have received greatly exaggerated reports before this of the occurrence as the whole neighborhood, as in such cases, is full of the most distorted versions. I at once proceeded to the farm of Mr. Sanger where the aerolite fell and collected the following facts which are as nearly the truth as the excitement which prevailed in the immense crowd there would permit and will probably be found correct enough short of anything of a strict scientific investigation:

Mr. Hadley's Statement:

     The atmosphere had been very oppressive during Tuesday and especially in the evening—something similar I have once experienced before a toronado which
I witnessed in the West Indies in 1836. I was awakened about 3 o'clock on Wednesday morning by the room in which I slept being filled with light, and immediately heard a rushing sound like the coming on of a threat wind. This lasted but a few seconds after I was awakened when an explosion description—it was terrific. The whole house shook as if one hundred cannon had been fired under the windows.
     Quite a number of pains of glass were broken out of the windows, and the plastering of the room I was in, came tumbling about me. The light, which was so bright that I could planely [original spelling retained in transcript. CC.] see every object in the room, was at once extinguished. The window of my room is on the opposite side of the house from the place where the meteor fell so that I could only judge its direction. The light seemed to come from some body moving very rapidly and from South to North and seemed to increase rapidly during the brief space that preceded the explosion. I at once started in the direction of the explosion but was unable to find the spot and returned. The spot where the body fell is about one mile from my house.
     This is the substance of observation of all who were near the spot.

     The facts at the time of the circumstances preceeding the fall of the aerolite I have from Mr. James Hadley, a respectable citizen of the town of Redfield, who resides about one mile from the scene and the rest is from personal observation.
     Many were awakened by the shock at a distance of five miles, and until the truth was ascertained, thought an earthquake had occurred.
     The aerolite struck the earth in some timberland belonging to Mr. Sanger. We believe Mr. Hadley’s dwelling to be the nearest. It seemed to have been a spherical body as near as we can judge by the fragments that remained. Its course was from the Southwest to the Northeast and descended at an angle about thirty degrees from the horizon which is proved by its track through the heavy hemlock trees before it touched the earth. The trees were cut through as a cannon ball would cut through a hedge leaving a huge track.The earth was torn upo for several rods and the huge trees are splintered and piled up like brush. One large hemlock four feet in diameter near whose roots the meteor struck was thrown bodily for eight yards cracking the surrounding trees like pipe stems. Fragments of a huge sandstone boulder which lay in its course were thrown in all directions. One weighing one-half ton was found three-quarters of a mile away.
     The aerolite seemed to have been formed of a nucleus of a crystalized substance of a semi-vitreous character but harder than quartz and unlike anything  with which we are acquainted. This was surrounded by a crust about three feet in thickness which was probably the same substance oxidized or changed by combustion. The crust broke off in fragments and lays about the spot but the nucleus penetrated the earth about twenty feet and at the same time we write is set upon by an excited crowd who are chopping away under the impression that it is of precious material of some sort.
     From appearance the outer crust of the aerolite seems to be in a partial state of fusion which is caused, according to philosophers who have written on the subject of aerolites, by heat generated by its rapid passage through the atmosphere. The crust that was broken off by collision somewhat resembles iron ore and the fact that it was very hot when it fell is proved by the grass being charred by the contact. I send you a specimen of the outer crust but every substance that had the slightest trace of crystalline matter which probably forms the nucleus has been seized on by the excited people who from its heaviness and brilliance conceive it to be at least as valuable as diamonds and will not part with it at any price. I presume they will be mistaken sadly but the fever was on them and they could not be convinced.
     This is certainly a phenomenon worthy of scientific investigation and I hope someone qualified for the task will visit it. This is written hurriedly as the conveyance that brings this is departing. I will furnish specimens if I can find them.

                                                                                              Yours, L.



Probabilities, Improbabilities, And Speculations On The Subject

Saturday Morning, June 18, 1859

     Meteoric bodies, or moon stones, have fell on the earth at many different times and places, and have ever been a source of interest to philosophers and the learned of all nations. Since the philosophers have taken a great interest in moon stones, the story is not to be confounded with moonstones but it would be no more than politeness in moon stones to tell of the finding. Moon stones, they claim, take an interest in philosophers. Whence by substitution we conclude that wherever meteors fall there reside wise men and ergo the late occurrence at Boylston is a compliment and a recognition of the philosophers tendered the people of Oswego County. We are surprised when we reflect on the above explanation that the vicinity of the city has not been visited long since by these remarkable phenomena—considering the enthusiasm with which visitors from other spheres in the shape of spirits have been received. It is not too much to expect arrivals from any stray phenomena that may be inclined for a tour into the influence of our planet.
     We are informed that some free thinking skeptics express doubt as to the occurrence of the event so graphically described by our Boylston correspondent, and regard the meteor as a product of a heated imagination. It may be so. There are circumstances that favor that belief. It is the fact that our correspondent, as we have just learned, has within a few weeks gone over to the Republican ranks. This we did not know at the time we published his letters, and of course do not feel responsible for anything they may contain after that. Still we believe in moon stones in the abstract, and would refer our readers to Andrew Jackson Davis’ “Harmonia” and Hoyle’s “Games of Chance,” for a refutation of the arguments of such as doubt. The first authority will convert the believers in spirits, and the second quid nunca. The rest of the people are very few, and had originally too much sense to require any convincing on the subject.
     As for this particular moon stone, we would like to see the man so contracted in his views as to declare that the great county of Oswego has not as good a right to such lunar honors as any other locality. Can there be a more appropriate place for a moon stone to descend? We pause for a reply!
     Personally the editor has never visited the moon. He is sorry for it, and if his patrons will furnish the funds he will gladly make the attempt, and inquire into the matter in question. Still, with our limited knowledge, we believe that the specimens furnished by our Boylston correspondent came from the moon, for this reason, that they had about them, and even the paper in which they were wrapped, so moony a flavor that every dog that has come near them has set up a howl long and sharp as ever greeted Luna herself on a winter’s night. This we consider conclusive on that point.
     We are not, in fact, sure that it makes any difference that the meteor fell in Boylston or not. It is certain that it might have fell there if it chose! There was no one near the locality to prevent it, and it has induced as much investigation into scientific subjects, and drawn out as many opinions as, ‘a moon stone of moderate desires would expect.’ Whatever is the fact, we trust it has secured several readers for “Dick’s Sidereal Heavens,” which will certainly prove a benefit, and we hope all will find in the Boylston Meteor after the recommendation of the poet—
“Sermons in stones, and good in everything.”

1) Fulton History--Oswego County Historical Society
2) Fulton History--"Chet" Hull
3) Sandy Creek News--Where Meteor Fell